© Jerry F. Couch 2020
FROM TIME TO TIME, publishers send new books to the CVT in the hope we will review them for our readers. Some do not make the grade. Others, like Ric Murphy’s new book, Arrival of THE FIRST AFRICANS in Virginia are both a pleasure to read and to review.
The book is dedicated “To the Angolans who sailed on the San Juan Bautista and their descendants near and far.” These individuals arrived in Virginia on August 25, 1619. They are just as important to our history as the English settlers who came to Jamestown in 1607. Read the book and you’ll understand why.
Before turning to Page 1, check your preconceived notions at the door. Generally speaking, our view of chattel slavery in America is greatly oversimplified. Among other things, author Murphy explores the complex interrelationships of sixteenth and seventeenth century European politics, European economy, the history and culture of Africa, piracy on the high seas, and the role of the Catholic Church in all of it.
Like the true researcher he is, Murphy does not content himself with relying on accepted and long-held views of his subject. He reexamines EVERYTHING – much like removing the contents of an ancient trunk and bringing them into the light for the first time in centuries.
If you eschew easy and comfortable answers, this book will impress and please you. It is well-indexed for easy reference and features numerous illustrations. The Phyllis Wheatley 2020 Book Award is one of the honors it has garnered to date, and we have no doubt there will be more. The humble Clinch Valley Times gives this book a Five Star Rating.
Available from The History Press of Charleston, SC — $21.99